In the small world that it often turns out to be, one of my old friends, John C. Drew, has emerged at the forefront of the vetting process of Obama for 2012, with a column in Breitbart’s Big Government . Vetting that should have occurred four years ago or sooner, which constitutes journalistic malpractice. John actually dated one of the girlfriends that Obama “compressed” in his autobiography:
[Regina] told me about her childhood in Chicago, the absent father and struggling mother, the South Side’s six-flat that never seemed warm enough in winter and got so hot in the summer that people went out by the lake to sleep….Her voice evoked a vision of black life in all its possibility, a vision that filled me with longing–a longing for place, and a fixed and definite history. As we were getting up to leave, I told Regina I envied her. “For what?” “I don’t know. For your memories, I guess.”
That passage, from Obama’s (first) autobiography, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (pp. 158-9), describes “Regina,” a young black woman at Occidental College who he claimed was crucial to his political awakening. She even encouraged him to drop “Barry” in favor of “Barack.” He envied her confidence, and her memories–so much so, in fact, that he made them up. Not only was “Regina” not from the poor South Side of Chicago, but she was not even black.
I know, because she was my girlfriend at the time.
John was an admitted Marxist at the time. One of the topics I have talked to him about is Obama’s complete lack of a documented “eureka” moment, that soul searching journey or moment when you realize that the philosophical path you are on is simply wrong.
Every person who has shifted from Marxist/Socialist views to Capitalism/Conservatism has that story: the wake up moment or reasons for their life to change directions. Obama does not have such a story to tell. John has told me he believes this is because Obama never made such a journey, that he never made the transition from Marxist philosophies to capitalism.
Politically, the most significant issue missing from Obama’s composite Regina is that the real life Caroline Boss was then a strongly committed Marxist socialist. Boss served as the co-president of the Democrat Socialist Alliance (DSA) at Occidental College while Obama was a sophomore. We also know, from David Maraniss’s book, that Boss she was one of the main speakers at the anti-apartheid event at Occidental on February 18, 1981. In Maraniss’s book, Obama’s smooth participation in skit where he plays the role of a soon-to-be-arrested South African activist offers a stark contrast to Boss’s performance in which — reminiscent of Phoebe Buffay — she nervously flubs the introduction of the guest speaker, a visitor from South Africa.
All in all, I think it is safe to say the story of the real life Caroline Boss would have been much more interesting than the story of the fake Regina — even the parts of the fake Regina that seem to drawn on the real life of the first lady, Michelle Obama.
I am asking myself why would Obama delete a vivid white girl from his autobiography and replace her with a big, dark composite character from Chicago?
As a political scientist, I think the best theory is that my girlfriend’s story would not have scored Obama many points among his potential black constituents in Chicago. Acknowledging the influence of a white, Swiss-American would have called attention to Obama’s politically incorrect attachments to a series of wealthy white females including Caroline Boss, Alexandra McNear and Genevieve Cook. It would have reminded readers that Obama picked Occidental College, in part, because of the advice of a white girl from the wealthy Brentwood area of Los Angeles. Ultimately, I think the story of the real white Regina would have led readers to the uncomfortable realities of the real young Obama — the Punahou graduate who seemed completely white, the cocaine user who benefited from affirmative action, and the angry dude who got in my face to defend his naïve faith in an inevitable Communist revolution.
Crossposted from Blog of America